I was driving to Tulsa the other day for a meeting. The radio was on but I was only loosely listening to it while my mind was wandering over my busy schedule. I remember hearing something, and I can’t at this moment even remember what, that was really cool and it was happening in Oklahoma.
I remember thinking, “Wow! I can’t believe I live in Oklahoma” and “Who knew there were going to be such cool things here?”
I was invited to go on (what I call) a field trip to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) on Thursday. It was a staff visit for the AHA staff members and I was happy they included me because I was so excited to go.
I am not scientifically smart. Oh, I think I have a lot of street smarts and I’m definitely not dumb but scientists are another whole realm. I think that if I could have understood math and science, I definitely would have had a career in science.
Ahhh but I digress.
In the entry way, there was a beautiful replica of a cell in the marble.
And several more large “cells” suspended from the ceiling.
They were amazing and looked like art.
First we saw a video presentation about the new facility that they are in the process of building. It will cost $125 million and it will be the most energy efficient building when it’s done.
Here’s what it will look like then.
See the wind turbines at the top? Each turbine is made to look like a DNA helix. This is how it looks now.
They have a way to go but already you can see how magnificent the building will be when it’s finished.
We then went to visit Dr. Rheal Towner who told us about the MRI research they are doing with extremely powerful MRI devices.
Next was Dr. Dean Dawson who works with chromosomes. He was funny and passionate about his work. He said they use yeast to do a lot of experiments with because, other than the fact that there is no brain, a yeast cell is fairly close to a human cell. He showed us an example of how they forced a yeast chromosome to split the way a chromosome for Downs Syndrome would split. Next, they will attempt to make it do the same thing with mice.
Our final visit was to Dr. Charles Esmon.
Dr. Esmon is the one person we met who has actually benefitted from funds raised by the American Heart Association. His story of coming up with Protein C to save people with extreme poisoning of the blood was mind bogglingly cool. He also told us that without fundraising organizations like the AHA, much of this research could not be done.
I am really so happy that I was asked to go along on this visit. While a good portion of what they told us probably sailed right over my head, it was clear that these intelligent and dedicated scientists are changing the world as we know it.
And guess what? They are right here in Oklahoma. How cool.